Mission Viejo Haunted Escape Room

This Saturday, October 27, 2018, my friends and I went to the Mission Viejo Library escape room. I had never gone to an escape room before, and this was a great introduction. In the escape room, our group had to solve various challenges to figure out how to open the padlocked large box. In the box, there was a cure which would save us from the witch’s curse. This backstory helped motivate us to break the locks.

The first key that we found was under the lamp, which opened a smaller box. In that box, we found a battery and a key. We didn’t know what to do with these, so we started looking around and discovered that one of the books on the shelf was fake. It turned out there was a lockbox inside. We used the key we found earlier and opened the lockbox. Inside was a blacklight flashlight which we then put the batteries in. We walked around the room and looked at everything with the flashlight. We found a padlock with three different locks. One lock had different letters it that was opened by various cards we found on the table. Another padlock was solved through different highlighted numbers on a piece of paper that we found taped to the wall. Also taped to the walls were clock hands pointing in different directions that matched the third padlock. When we unlocked the final set of locks, we were finally able to open the box!

I really liked the spiderwebs and skeleton decorating the room as well as the scary music because it gave the whole atmosphere a scary vibe. Overall, this was a fun and challenging experience, and I am looking forward to doing more escape rooms!

Event Recap: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions (9/30/2018)

What a game. From the opening kick to the dying minutes of the game, there was intensity– enough to keep anyone on the edge of their seats. Bouncing back from an absolutely horrendous stretch of play, Quarterback Dak Prescott did just enough to push the Cowboys to a victory of 26-24. However, there is no question that the best player in the stadium was Runningback Ezekiel Elliot of the Dallas Cowboys. Leading the Cowboys in both rushing (152 yards off 25 carries) and receiving (88 yards off four receptions and one touchdown), Elliot was the engine that breathed life into an offense that has seemed dead the past couple of weeks. Though QB Prescott did help the Cowboys with timely throws and solid decision-making, there should be no doubt that the Cowboys would have been going home with their third loss of the year without a career day from Elliot.

On the other side of the field, the biggest question coming into this game was if the Cowboys could manage the loss of Sean Lee. The answer? They could. Though RB Kerryon Johnson of the Lions made his presence felt on a couple of big runs, the Cowboys mostly bottled him up on the ground (55 yards off 9 carries and one touchdown) thanks to solid days by linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander-Esch. A bigger concern, however, was WR Golden Tate’s field day. Though the defense has been playing well this year (ranked at 3rd entering this year), the secondary seemed to be unable to do much to stop Tate (132 yards off eight receptions and two touchdowns). A catch-and-run specialist, Tate slipped coverage and tackles all day, and would’ve been the most impressive player had Elliot not had an amazing day himself. In the coming weeks, it remains to be seen whether or not Dak could do enough to put the Cowboys in position to win once again, and whether this defense is more of their Week 2 performance against the Giants or their Week 4 performance against the Lions.

-Kobe L.

Andy Weir

On July 18th, Andy Weir, author of The Martian and Artemis, visited the Norman P Murray center. After his introduction, he talked about how he “accidentally “ became an author. As a child, his Father had many science-fiction novels on his bookshelf. Weir, reflecting on this, said  he was “doomed to become a nerd.” He read those novels, and fell in love with those books because of the extensive focus on science in them.

At 15, he was hired by Sandia labs to be an intern. There, he was introduced to computers and fell in love with them. His passion for writing also kept increasing at this time. When the time to choose a college came, he wanted to write, but “wanted regular meals,” so he chose to pursue software engineering. In college, he was in debt and was not able to complete his degree. Fortunately, the software industry was desperate for engineers, so Weir was hired. Eventually, he landed a job at aol, but was laid off. He had enough money from stocks to pursue his dream of writing, but was unsuccessful, and went back to software engineering.

In the early 2000s, Weir made a website to publish his stories on. He would publish longer stories, and post a chapter at a time. His fanbase loved one in particular: the one about a man stranded on Mars. Dubbed, The Martian, it rose to popularity among his dedicated core group of “nerd readers.” One day, he got an email requesting him to create downloadable versions of his writing. So, he proceeded to self-publish on Amazon.

Initially, he was hesitant about that because of the minimum purchase price because he always wanted his work to be free. However, people did not mind paying the price, and he had people who wanted to donate to him. He said he did not want any donations because he was comfortable in his life. People, however, “donated” to him by purchasing his ebook on Amazon. Eventually, it rose to do the top ten in the science fiction category on the Amazon bookstore.

From there, he was approached by an agent and The Martian was eventually published by Random House. Once it was released, it was #2 on The New York Times Bestseller List, and the movie deal was confirmed with 20th Century Fox. After the immense success of The Martian, Weir wrote Artemis. This novel is about the first human establishment on the moon, and it is in the perspective of a 26 year-old women, and how she is entangled within various struggles.

As a writer, Weir aims to write 1000 words a day, and states that the “hardest part of writing is writing.” For aspiring writers, he has three pieces of advice: 1) In order to be a writer, you have to write. Sitting there and thinking about your story is not the same as writing. 2) Resist the urge to tell your story to other people until it is done because it saps your own will to finish the story. 3) There has never been a better time to self-publish. Because of this, there is no need to spend so much money on an agent, and by self-publishing, one can see how their book does without any risk of losing money. Seeing Andy Weir was a great opportunity, and I loved hearing him talk about his life and writing. I can’t wait to see what will happen with Weir;s future works, and if there are more movies adapted from his work.

-Anmol K.

The works of Andy Weir are available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library

Event Recap: 2018 Billboard Music Awards

In May 2018, the annual Billboard Music Awards took place. The awards were held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and the show itself was hosted by Kelly Clarkson. I was very excited to watch the show, even though I didn’t go to the actual awards.

There were amazing performers including Ariana Grande, Shawn Mendes, Khalid, Camila Cabello, Janet Jackson, international Kpop boy-band BTS, and many more.

Out of the many performances that night, the most memorable for me was the performance of “Youth” by Shawn Mendes, Khalid, and joined by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School choir of Parkland, Florida. The powerful performance showed a strong message against gun violence and paid a tribute to those affected in the event. The  lyrics of the song bestows a touching message saying things like “As long as I wake up today / You can’t take my youth away.”

Some award winners that night were Taylor Swift, winning the Best Female Artist and Top Selling Album, Top New Artist was given to Khalid. International Sensation boy-group BTS winning the Top Social Artist award for the second year in a row was a shock for the viewers and the boys as well. And the Icon Award went to Janet Jackson.

The awards this year was amazing with the performances and the artist as well. I can’t wait for next year!

-Phoebe L.

Musical Review: Les Misérables

This past week, I went to go see a school musical with my parents. Since this musical was set around the French Revolution, I watched the movie musical with Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Anne Hathaway and more. I was very excited to see the musical and had very high expectations. The show was about 2 1/2 hours, which didn’t seem that long.

The musical/story, in short, is about a man, Jean Valjean, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison for stealing and attempted escapes. He is eventually released. Many years later, we see him again but as a totally new man-the mayor of the town. He takes in young Cosette whose mother, Fantine, passed from fatigue, stress, and an unidentified disease. Years pass once again, and it’s right before the French Revolution.  By now, Cosette is now much older and is courted by Marius. Jean Valjean can feel his life slowly slipping away from age and decides to go on a “vacation” so that Cosette doesn’t see him passing. He sees the ghost of Fantine and walks with her to see all the people who died in battle, and there the musical ends.

The actors were incredible! All of them could sing so amazingly and had so much emotion evident in their voices. The set designs were on point, all the costumes were so beautiful, and the orchestra pit played so wonderful and added more color to the story. There weren’t any negative opinions that I heard the next day, and I think overall the musical was an amazing success. This was my first school musical and is definitely going to be remembered for a long time.

-Phoebe L.

Les Miserables, in all its formats, is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Cowboys Draft Plan

On Friday, April 13th, the Dallas Cowboys formally parted ways with star WR Dez Bryant. Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has come out and stated that the Cowboys do not believe they have a receiver that can come in and completely take over the “WR1” mantle previously held by Dez. This is a sound assumption as there are no real wide receiver prospects in the 2018 draft that look as though they would be home-run picks like Odell Beckham Jr. or Julio Jones. However, there are many receivers that look to be solid WR2 receivers that have the potential to turn into WR1 caliber receivers. The release of Dez Bryant has led to many tying the Cowboys with drafting a WR in the first round. However, the timing of this release seems to state otherwise.

As many teams do not want to give any hints as to what their draft plans may be, the timing of Dez’s release seems intriguing. If the Cowboys really were planning on drafting a receiver at 19 or potentially even trading up in the draft, keeping Dez– business wise– may have been the best move to hide a lack of star receiver power. As a result, it seems as though the Cowboys are not planning on actively pursuing a receiver, but may instead be pointed to drafting a defensive player in the first round to add to their lineup. Furthermore, the signings of Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson seem to indicate they are fine with drafting a receiver in some of the later rounds of the draft, as this receiver class, though lacking in star power, has solid options that can be selected in the second and third rounds. With Sean Lee getting a year older and David Irving potentially being suspended to start the season, the Cowboys have more pressing needs at linebacker and defensive tackle and would be in their best interests selecting one of those positions over WR.

-Kobe L.

The Car Plays at Segerstrom

The Car Plays are a set of short scenes acted out by actors and actresses in cars. The audience is one to two people at a time who sit either in the front or the back of the car, depending on where the actors are, who watch the short play unfold before themselves. Some plays were sad, weird plays; some plays were humorous, laugh-out-loud funny.

All of them portrayed great acting abilities by the actors and actresses and demonstrated acting at its core. Many of the scenes were very moving as well as gave the audience the ability to contribute to the scene as characters themselves because of the fact that the audience sits in the same car as the actors and actresses, just feet from the scene being performed. This type of entertainment requires very versatile and accomplished actors and actresses who do not have to simply act to people hundreds of feet away in an enormous auditorium, but a few inches away in a car. Segerstrom put on this event and many people, including myself and my best friend, attended it and were blown away by its brilliance.

-Kyle H.